Good birding around Newcastle, NSW - 26th March 2005

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Subject: Good birding around Newcastle, NSW - 26th March 2005
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 22:03:54 +1100

Today, I paid a visit to some of my favourite birding haunts around the Newcastle area (approx. 170 km north of Sydney CBD) and saw a number of interesting species as follows:


WOODBERY – birds seen here included a Greenshank with 6 Marsh and 3 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, 130 Pied Stilts and a Swamp Harrier. Striped Honeyeaters, as usual, were also heard here.


STOCKTON BREAKWATER – today I was amazed not to see a single Common or a White-winged Black Tern (both are usually seen in reasonable numbers at this time of year) and there were few other sea birds with only 10 or so Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, 10 Australasian Gannets and 2 Arctic Jaegers very close to the northern breakwater (along the Shipwreck walk). The call of the local Pied Butcherbirds appeared to travel quite some distance and I could here them as I was watching the seabirds.


STOCKTON BRIDGE/FERN BAY – this was the main area of attention for the day as I really wanted to say my farewells to all the migratory shorebirds preparing their long travels to the Arctic Circle (well not quite like that). Here a good selection of shorebirds were still left to go including  4 Red-capped Plover, 10 Red-necked Stint, 2 BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPERS (very good views of both feeding side by side and I could even see the olive base to their long and broad bills as well as the double eye-brow), 2 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 9 Grey-tailed Tattler, 40 Red and 4 Great Knots (one of the later was in full breeding plumage and all the former were in non-breeding plumage), 120 Bar-tailed (several in red dress) and 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 10 Whimbrel, 10 Eastern Curlew, 12 Terek Sandpipers, 20 Pied Stilts, 2,000 Red-necked Avocets (always an impressive sight when they take flight together) and 13 Pied Oystercatchers. Also amongst the waders were 8 Caspian and 13 Gull-billed Terns (all but one of the later were in breeding plumage). I also saw roosting on the dykes on the other side of the Hunter River, 4 Sooty Oystercatchers and a Sacred Kingfisher flying from mangrove to mangrove at Fern Bay. Both White-bellied Sea-eagles and several Whistling Kites were patrolling overhead. A single male White-fronted Chat was seen here as well as the usual Brown Honeyeaters and Mangrove Gerygones were also calling at this location. 


LENAGHAN – a nice pair of Grey Goshawks put on a good show as they were being mobbed by a small group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Other raptors seen here included a Swamp Harrier, 3 Whistling Kites, a Hobby and a Kestrel (all within a few minutes). A small flock of White-breasted Woodswallows were also observed hawking overhead.


POURMALONG NR – a pair of Magpie Geese with 6 well-grown young were seen together all having a snooze at their nest. Also here was a pair of Wandering Whistling-ducks and a few Hardhead and Australasian Shovelers. The pair of Grey Goshawks seen at the former place also turned up at this location and there were also more White-breasted Woodswallows.


RICHMONDVALE – a good variety of honeyeaters were seen here (and in good numbers) including Noisy Friarbirds; White-naped, Brown-headed, Yellow-tufted, Yellow-faced, Fuscous, White-cheeked and Scarlet Honeyeaters as well as Eastern Spinebill. Bar-shouldered Doves, several flocks of Little Lorikeets (constantly traveling between the trees in flocks of 25-50), a family group of 5 Jacky Winters, 7 Dusky Woodswallows and Varied Sitellas were also present. The flowering spotting gums here could bring Swift Parrots or Regent Honeyeaters in the near future!


A good way to spend part of the Easter break!


Edwin Vella


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